Frequently Asked Questions
In order for a U.S. Customs Broker to file a Customs entry on behalf of an importer, it must have a signed Power of Attorney in place, signed by an officer of the company. If the importer chooses to import on a continuous surety bond, an application to CBP must be filled out. By the way, an importer cannot file U.S. Customs entries on their own. An importer MUST hire a Licensed U.S. Customs broker to file U.S. Customs entries; however an importer CAN file an ISF on their own.
Moreover, Scarbrough requires a client application to be in place. All documents can be found here: Be a Client.
An importer is also required to send (or have its supplier send) the commercial invoice and packing list to the broker. If a partner government agency (PGA such as FDA, EPA, USDA, etc.) is involved, other paperwork is required.
Scarbrough only requires a client application to be in place for transportation purposes only. If Scarbrough is also providing U.S. Customs Brokerage services, then we will also need a Power of Attorney (POA) to file U.S. Customs entries on your behalf. By the way, an importer CANNOT file U.S. Customs entries on their own. An importer MUST hire a Licensed U.S. Customs broker.
You can find the paperwork here: Be A Client.
Document requirements change depending on which country you are exporting to, so it is best to ask an export expert based on your information. Export transportation providers do require a shippers letter of instruction or power of attorney to ship goods abroad.
If an exporter is shipping via air freight, a consent to screen form written on the exporter’s letterhead is required. Moreover, Scarbrough requires a client application to be in place. All documents can be found here >> Be a Client
An exporter is also required to send its commercial invoice and packing list to the broker.
The import process always begins with a purchase order. Once the goods are manufactured, an importer must decide on the Incoterms®, pay for the remainder of the invoice (if not paid up front) and arrange transportation.
Scarbrough helps with every step of the way and can walk you through the process. Watch this short snippet for a better understanding of the import process into the United States.
For more information, don’t hesitate to contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org
First and foremost, the U.S. seller must know what Incoterms® it is selling on. The exporter must ensure it is doing its due diligence when selling to a foreign buyer. For example, the exporter must ensure the foreign buyer is not on the denied parties list. Another example would include whether or not the commodity being sold is licenseable and requires further documentation.
Watch this short snippet for a better understanding of the export process from the United States.
For more information, don’t hesitate to contact our team at email@example.com
Incoterms® stands for “International Commercial Terms” and are internationally recognized terms of agreement for buying and selling goods across the globe. Incoterms® are agreed upon between the seller and buyer in regards to when the risk and responsibility of the goods and transport are transferred. Incoterms® are not law nor binding. They are only used as a guidance guide and represent different ways international shipments are bought and sold. When buying goods, we recommend F Terms. When selling goods, we recommend C Terms.
Rules of Thumb
- The party responsible for transport arrangement and payment of transportation charges is in control of the cargo
- The more responsibility the party has, the more control they have
Download an Incoterms® Chart by viewing the full webpage.
Less than container load means that the shipment is consolidated into a full container along with other shippers’ freight. If a shipper/importer cannot fill a full container on its own, shipping LCL is a great alternative. Some shippers even prefer weekly LCL shipments to assist in its manufacturing or inventory practices. If the shipment is small enough, it is also key to look into air freight options to explore what is the best fit for the situation and preferences at hand.
Watch this short 3 minute video that explains the process of an LCL shipment.
A harmonized tariff schedule number is a 10 digit code that identifies a produce to Customs. This number is required to file a U.S. Customs entry and it is the ultimate responsibility of the importer of record to make the decision or sign off on which HTS number to use. If you don’t know the HTS number, we suggest you start with CROSS (CBP’s Customs Rulings Online Searching System) or you can search by chapter in the actual Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.
It is important to note that Schedule B numbers and HTS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule) numbers, which are associated with imports, are not directly related.
Scarbrough is known for its expertise in HTS classification, Over 20% of its import staff are licensed U.S. Customs brokers. If you have a question about HTS classification or would like us to classify a product for you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Schedule B number is a 10-digit number specific to export shipments only. The Schedule B number identifies the product to Customs. You can find the Schedule B Number for your product on export.gov. It is important to note that Schedule B numbers and HTS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule) numbers, which are associated with imports, are not directly related.
Scarbrough is known for its expertise in HTS classification and Schedule B numbers. If you have a question about your Schedule B number or would like us to classify a product for you, please email email@example.com.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection requires that an importer purchase a surety bond to ensure it will pay the required duties and taxes when importing an item. A bond is like an insurance policy that guarantees payment to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) if a required act is not performed. Surety bonds can be purchased through Scarbrough, regardless if we clear the goods or not.
Bonds have a number of uses in CBP. The most common use allows importers to take possession of their goods before all CBP formalities are completed. Another common use allows a carrier to move goods under bond from one place to another before those goods are actually entered for consumption with duties paid.
There are two types of surety bonds:
Single Transaction Bond – a single transaction bond is a one-time bond. An importer should purchase this bond only if it plans to import 1-2 times and the value isn’t extremely high or there is no PGA involved. Note, if an importer is importing via ocean transport, it is also required to purchase an ISF bond. Click here for pricing.
Continuous Bond – a continuous bond is valid for 12 months from date of purchase and is automatically renewed each year until it is terminated, which can be done so free of charge. An importer should purchase this bond if it plans to import more than 2-4 times in the next 12 months, the value is high, or if a PGA (such as FDA, USDA, etc.) is involved. Note, a continuous bond is required if there is a late ISF. Click here for pricing.
Importer Security Filing, also known as “10+2”, is a U.S. Customs and Border protection regulation mandated for ocean cargo imports only. ISF is required to be filed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection 24 hours prior to sailing from last origin port.
In other words, importers should send all necessary data to their U.S. Customs Broker prior to shipping the order. Scarbrough files ISF 72 hours in advance and suggest importers to gather required data from their shippers as soon as possible.
Required Data Elements:
The required data elements can be found on this form and are listed below. Please send all this information to the U.S. Customs broker as soon as you obtain it. We suggest you ask your shipper for these details, as well.
- Seller Name & Address
- Buyer Name & Address
- Importer of Record EIN/IRS Number
- Ultimate Consignee EIN/IRS Number
- Manufacturer (or Supplier) Name & Address
- Ship to Name & Address
- Country of Origin
- HTSUS Number
- Container Stuffing Location
- Consolidator Name & Address
- House Bill of Lading # (Importer only needs to send the House BOL# if U.S. Customs broker is different from the freight forwarder moving the shipment)
- Master Bill of Lading # (The freight forwarder moving the shipment will have this number)
To learn more about Importer Security Filing :
What is Cargo Insurance? Should I insure my cargo? How much is it?
Cargo insurance provides protection against all risks of physical loss or damage to freight from any external cause during shipping, whether by land, sea or air.
All risk insurance includes all risks of physical loss or damage unless excluded which includes:
- improper packing,
- abandonment of cargo,
- rejection by Customs,
- failure to pay or collect,
- inherent vice,
- employee dishonesty,
- barge shipments,
- goods subject to an on-deck BOL,
- losses caused by temperature or pressure,
- used goods,
- failure to provide timely notification of loss,
- loss in excess of policy limits,
- loss caused by delay or loss of use and/or market (Seasonal merchandise),
- cyber attack,
- loss due to strikes or acts of war.
Insurance is typically between 0.20 to 0.40 per $100 of freight value + commercial value x 110%, with a minimum of $25. It is very affordable and goes a long way for the small amount of money paid, so we highly recommend purchasing insurance. Scarbrough can insure your cargo and claim losses right here in house. Please note, some commodities have a higher rate based on their frailty, such as granite and marble. Also, if the value is extremely high, the rate may be higher, as well.
Basics of Cargo Insurance, Risk and Liability:
Yes, Scarbrough Transportation delivers to Amazon facilities throughout the country on a daily basis. Our warehouses also act as distribution centers for fulfillment on Amazon purchases. We are familiar with all Amazon regulations and will seamlessly deliver your freight to anywhere in the world. For more information and pricing, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What about charitable goods? What about samples?
Yes, you need to declare a value even if you are shipping charitable goods. Every product that you want to import has some sort of value. When you are looking at valuation of the product, number one step is to look at the transaction value. If there is no actual “transactional” value, then you look at the value of identical merchandise.
For example, if you are importing a sample of a sweater and you paid nothing for it, you would declare the amount that you would have bought that same sweater for if you were to purchase it.
One suggestion to import samples is to have your shipper create an invoice for $0.00 and notate on the actual invoice the value of the goods and notate “For U.S. Customs purposes only.”
If you have questions or need assistance with your valuation, please contact our team. Email email@example.com.
Watch the informational video below to further explain.
What is the difference between Air vs. Ocean?
If you are an importer, you may be asking yourself, when should I ship by ocean or when should I ship by air? There are many things to consider when making this decision.
Check it out:
- Transit Time
- Service and Strings
- Rate Changes
- Terminal Charges
- Storage and Free Time
- U.S. Customs and TSA Regulations
Check out 10 tips when dealing with international transportation.
1. Know your Product
2. Know your Shipper or Customer
3. Ensure the Real Transit Time
4. Know the Routing
5. Know your Incoterms®
6. Figure your Total Landed Cost
7. Ensure you’re Comparing Apples to Apples
8. Plan Ahead
9. Use Technology
10. Attend Training
What can I do to avoid U.S. Customs exams?
For new importers, this one is tough. If you are a new importer, your first couple of shipments will most likely go through some sort of US Customs exam. However, here are some tips to take to help avoid future exams:
- Have reliable partners in place (ie. shipper, freight forwarder, US Customs broker) prior to completing the purchase
- If you plan to import more than one time, purchase a continuous bond.
- Speak with your partner and send documents prior to completing the purchase
- File ISF on time
- Ensure your HTS number is correct
- Ensure your valuation is correct
- Avoid importing from high-risk countries
- Find out required licensing or certificates from partner government agencies that may be involved
- Research quota information and quota requirements for certain commodities prior to importing. Check out this guide here.
- Follow Tip Number 1
To find out more about U.S. Customs, why they happen and what else you can do to decrease your number of exams, read the entire article below.